|My home from 1993-1997 |
(Filters just added for effect)
It sounds like some kind of awful movie from the fifties, yet for me, this is all too real. My years as a monk were a mixed bag for the most part, but I think you could probably say that about any four years in a life. I had lots of happy days and happy experiences in the monastery, and I'll take the lessons I learned from my four-plus years as Brother Sean with me wherever I go in life, but some of the time? Well, some of the time, things really weren't too great.
The brothers were proud counter-culturists at a time in my life when I was just beginning to understand and appreciate culture, in all its forms and variations. You can take the boy out of the world, but you can't take the world out of the boy, despite how much I tried to let them.
Then one day, very unexpectedly, they told me to leave.
They showed me the door so fast, it was like they were quietly ending a contract. I had no time to say goodbye, and hardly any time to even think about what was happening. It was just, "Go back to your room now and pack," and even the packing was expedited. I didn't feel I'd have enough room to bring everything, so I had to leave an awful lot behind, too.
My life was never a contract though, and you can't just sweep a soul under the carpet like that. I deserved better, and I continue to pray my superiors will one day see that. No one in my situation should have ever been just thrown away, dropped off at his parents' door with the equivalent of a proof-of-delivery notice. It was sick and heartless, and they should have known it was sick and heartless. I wrote dozens of letters to people there over the years, but got little to no response.
Seventeen years later, I still have nightmares, but strangely, my nightmares are never about events that took place inside the monastery walls. Instead, they always take me inside as if I'm back again, and once again needing to leave. That's all they seem to really be about: me needing to get out.
Some people have nightmares of being chased, or being late for school or work, or about falling from a great height. I've had those at times, but the most consistent nightmare I have for these past 17 years is this one: the one where I'm in the monastery, and need to find my own way out.
I believe my nightmare returns because I was never given the opportunity and time to leave the religious life calmly and naturally, and I seem doomed to repeat the depression of that day over and over as a loop in my head. Unfinished business of this magnitude can literally haunt you forever.
I don't even hate my brothers there who still live the religious life as part of that community. I love them! And I miss them! But to my superiors at least, I was treated like a contract they decided to terminate, and a soul they swept under the carpet. No one is worth treating this way, least of all someone who attended their schools as a student, loved God and tried his best to serve the church in the religious life, and who was suffering at the time with clinical depression.
So do I still harbor sadness and resentment? Yes.
I continue to try my best to forgive my religious superiors, and I dream of the possibility of healing. I also still believe firmly, that whether here or in Heaven, we will all attain that ultimate healing we very much need. In the meantime, these nightmares from the monastery will keep haunting me, until I finally find the peace that only time and healing can bring.